How to Make a Lap Steel Guitar Case

Written by andrew copley
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How to Make a Lap Steel Guitar Case
Add style to your case by staining the wood different colours. (case image by Aleksandr Lobanov from

Lap steel guitars, originally known as Hawaiian 10 or 5-string guitars, are precision instruments that need to be protected during transport. If you can't find a case designed to fit your guitar, it is time to get creative and build one of your own. For a fraction of the cost of store-bought cases, a homemade case can hold all of your extras, such as guitar picks, finger-bar and even the guitar legs if yours has them. Don't take risks with your investment; protect it with a solid guitar case.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • T-Square
  • Table saw
  • Sheet of pine wood 1/4-inch thick
  • Pine wood planks 1/2-inch thick
  • Carpenters glue
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Piano hinge with screws
  • Metal saw or cutters
  • Screwdriver
  • Closing clasps with screws (2)
  • Carry handle with screws
  • Carpenters knife
  • Memory foam

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  1. 1

    Decide what size your case needs to be. Lay the guitar and all its parts, including the legs if you have them, out on the work bench. Measure the length, width and height needed. Add 4 inches to your length and width measurement and 2 inches to the height.

  2. 2

    Set up your table saw. Cut two rectangles out of the 1/4-inch sheet of wood using your length and width measurements. Check that they are cut square with the T-square. Divide your height measurement in half and cut 8 strips of 1/2-inch pine using that measurement. Cut four of those pieces down to your length measurement. Take 1-inch off your height measurement and cut the last four pieces to that size. Sand all the wood with the sand paper.

  3. 3

    Use two long and two short pieces of cut 1/2-inch pine to set up the frame of the case on the work bench. Have the 1/2-inch side facing the work bench. Place the two short pieces inside the two long pieces at each end. Square it up with the T-square.

  4. 4

    Run a thin bead of glue along the top edge. Carefully place one of the 1/4-inch sheets on top lined up with the edges and nail it into position. Nail the edges together with the nail going through the long piece into the end of the short piece. Make a second unit with the remaining pieces.

  5. 5

    Place one box on top of the other to form a closed box. Cut the piano hinge down to fit along one of the long edges. Screw the hinge into place with the centre of the hinge running along the crack between the two sections.

  6. 6

    Attach the two case closing clasps with the provided screws evenly spaced on the other long edge of the box. Screw the handle into position making sure you can still open and close the box.

  7. 7

    Use a carpenter's knife to cut two pieces of memory foam to fit into each side of the open box. The foam should be the same thickness of the side of the box it's fitting in to. Remove the foam and spread some glue inside of the box to hold it in place and press the foam into position.

  8. 8

    Place your guitar into position on the foam. Cut slots to hold your guitar picks. Close the case and leave it that way for a day. The foam will start to take shape around the parts. If you wish you can paint or stain the case.

Tips and warnings

  • Use straight pieces of wood only.
  • Use some scrap pieces of wood to check that the saw cuts squarely.
  • Hammer gently and straight.
  • Make sure the handle holds, you don't want it falling off while carrying the guitar. You may need to use a nut and bolt instead if you have a heavy guitar.

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